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Has Leaflet Distribution Become Fast Food Propaganda?

Sep 3, 2008
Living in the vicinity of several pizza parlours, innumerable kebab shops and a healthy sprinkling of Chinese and Indian take-a-ways, my letterbox is often blocked with a small forest worth of paper. The leaflets that get posted promise to deliver, for no extra cost, just about any cuisine to my door and promise to make it to my liking. Deep pan, thin and crispy, extra chilli, stuffed crust; go large, free chips with any order over 12.99; free side dish and beer on a Sunday; all ploys to get me to choose their food over the guys next door. Obviously, these papery teasers have a positive advertising influence, otherwise I wouldn't be writing about all the lovely deals etched in my brain.

The power of promotion delivered to a potential customer's door is a popular choice for many businesses. From window cleaners to plumbers and fast food delivery to car valet services, leaflets are the perfect way to get a customer's attention. Although you may not take much notice of the recent spoils as you harvest the doormat delivery, I will bet my bottom dollar that you scoop them up, and 'pop them in a pile'. It is this natural instinct of the modern day hunter gatherer of Suburbia that guarantees business will come from a leaflet drop.

Yes, as you stumble through the door on a Thursday night, goggle eyed after a few after work beers and ravenous with hunger, instinct kicks in. Reaching blindly for the pile of menus, sifting through the garden services and electricians looking for something tasty, a dazzlingly luscious pizza catches your attention and it comes with a free litre of cola! Voila! The number is printed in a huge neon font, winning over a previous parlour's attempts to get your business by being easy to read, and before you know it, a beer soaked brain has successfully hunted, gathered and consumed. Twenty first century survival tactics.

The success of such a marketing strategy is by no means a new one, but the roots of postal promotion lies more in paper based propaganda. The shiny leaves of eye-catching graphics are a direct descendant of wartime leaflet propaganda that dates back as far as the 1800s. Before the days of global media coverage and internet chat rooms, the only way of reaching an audience to inform them of what was going on was by dropping reading material in information bombs. These drops worked in two ways, to boost morale and to break morale, depending on the objective in hand.

Propaganda bombs aimed at the opposition, often in the form of cartoons to overcome language barriers, would aim to instil fear in citizens and loss of hope in troops. Often containing disinformation, this form of psychological warfare encouraged surrender and compliance. It was also utilised in a more positive way, influencing the opposition through promises of democracy and freedom, encouraging a revolution. This method was not only used to influence the thinking and actions of the adversaries, it was used to inform citizens that all was well, and to boost the morale of a nation in waiting. This method worked well until the technology advanced enough to have a bigger influence than the drops. Global media coverage of political events means that propaganda in this form is in a massive rate of decline, with preference being given to digital technology of the World Wide Web and satellite television.

Now the leaflet drop has a more friendly face of influence, tempting and teasing us to purchase something delicious to eat, or to keep a local trades person in business. It has become a consumer propaganda mission, anti global at that. Ignore the big flashy telly adverts for Domino's and Maccy D; support the Ken's kebab house and its delivery service... keep local world cuisine alive!
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson is in the printing industry and specilises in promotional leaflets.
Find out more about leaflet distribution and all other aspects of prinitng and promotional material at Mailbox Nationwide.
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